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Survive or Thrive? Some thoughts on family dynamics
May 29, 2012 - Jamie O'Hare
There are times for survival in every family. Times when we hang on tight, do only what is necessary, and try not to let life run us over. We've had a few years that way, like when my husband was in grad school and when we moved to Wheeling, and more recently the first six months of our fourth child's life. Not proud of that. As we begin to find our bearings again, school ends today, and now I'll be home with four kids all day. Sounds like a recipe for survival mode again, and that thought terrifies me. With that in mind, we decided to do something about it.
We had our first family meeting last week. Sounds cliche and sitcom-esque, but I explained to everyone what my stressors are, how I need help, and what my vision is for our family and what I need to make that happen. In survival mode, there is no room for vision, and there is no shot at excellence, which is why I can't stay there.
Our big issues are people not picking up, meal prep reverting to being an afterthought, not feeling like we could invite people over, and no one having energy/enthusiasm to go and do things. Why? Because survival mode is exhausting! We made a plan using Google calendar, which syncs to our iPods and our computers and allows for many different print options. I now have daily reminders that beep at me to exercise, to prep food, do certain weekly chores, and get the kids to do a quick pick-up in an area. At 10:30 every morning I'm in my kitchen making something-- beans, jam, bread, yogurt, or dinner in the crock pot. This ensures that we have healthy and junk-free versions of our favorite foods. We have a daily chore in a different area of the house for each day of the month. our meals are on a 2-week rotation, making shopping lists easy.
The reason for this plan is that we want to be a family that lives a fun life, a family that is excellent, not just surviving. We brainstormed all the things the kids want to do this summer and had a pep-talk about how this plan will make that happen, and they were on board. Do they like helping out? Not entirely, but we want to raise up responsible men and women who can thrive as adults.
Every family's vision will vary, but without one, life gets too haphazard and easily slips into survival mode. Having a vision, setting achievable goals, and being each other's biggest fans are the strategies that are taking shape at the O'Hare household.
How about yours?
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